Advent is over soon, just one week to go to December 25th and Christmas

12-18-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Wow! Advent is over soon, just one week to go to December 25th and Christmas. Our “waiting and watchfulness” will soon end. Perhaps before the final run up to Christmas occurs, we can find a little quiet time, perhaps in our car as we are driving, to think about Christmas and Jesus.

Our first reading which is from Isaiah clearly links to our Gospel. The words of Isaiah can be discovered in the brief story of Joseph’s vision. The environment of both passages is radically different, Isaiah’s is the noise of an army and Joseph’s is simple quiet. In this passage Isaiah reminded Ahaz that his role as the king of Judah was to find his strength in the Jewish Covenant, not in military might. King Ahaz did not want to know this because then he would have to act differently than he wanted. Isaiah even gave him a sign to get him to follow what was right, as Isiah said: “… the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”

The second reading is from the opening of the Letter of Paul to the Romans. It is a formal greeting by Paul which also reminds people that he is an apostle and witness to the good news that was promised in the Scriptures. He reminds all that the risen Jesus, of the line of David, is none other than Son of God, Christ, and Lord. He adds these titles to the one already given in times past of “Emmanuel.” All these titles point us to the story of Joseph’s vision and his mission to care for Mary and her child, who is also described as “God is with us.” We also discover in the Gospel that Joseph learned that the child is “the Promised One”, who will be named Jesus, meaning “the Lord is salvation.”

We hear in the vision story that without hesitation or pause, Joseph changed the direction of his life. When he awoke in the morning, Joseph acted as the angel in his dream directed. The marriage of Mary and Joseph was accomplished in the moment when Joseph received Mary into his home as his wife.

Christmas is fast approaching. Images of the Infant Jesus abound in art, literature, and music. Did you notice how most of our Christmas cards and associated art include the Infant and His mother, Mary, but are without Joseph. What about Joseph? Not one word that he has ever uttered or spoken has ever been recorded in scripture, instead his actions are well recorded and are impressive. This omission of Joseph’s spoken words has profound significance. It is an important symbol with great meaning for us as followers of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps one of the lessons of this week’s scripture is simply to live the reality that our actions always speak louder than words. In our day to day culture through social media and all the rest we often have lots and lots of words, but very little action. We are quick to speak, to give an opinion or suggest what someone else should do, but we do little or nothing ourselves. Maybe this is the week when we get our actions to be louder than our words. Maybe the example of Saint Joseph and the Gospel writers have given us a great gift for Christmas.